Friday, February 5, 2010

What happened to Majority Rule?

One of the refrains I keep hearing over and over is the lament that the majority party in Congress can’t seem to get their act together enough to actually get anything done. Looking back on the Bush years, it seems that the GOP, for all their faults at least knew how to ram things down our collective throats. Why can’t the Dems figure out how to do the same for things that actually matter – to most of us – like healthcare and Wall Street reform? The answer I suspect has more to do with the man who sits in the Oval Office than the woman in the Speaker’s chair. In nearly every way Obama has been the anti-Bush, even going so far as to something Bush would never have dreamed of doing – treating Congress like it matters. Now, this a personal hypothesis but it breaks down like this; Bush-Cheney operated on the theory that the executive was first and foremost the head of his party and they tried to use their (GOP) congressional majorities as a blunt instrument for pursuing their own agenda. This really pisses off the minority party (DEMS). The new president comes in with solid majorities in both houses, vaguely outlines his agenda and lets the Congress work out the details for themselves. All hell breaks loose. The majority wants to give the minority the high hard finger but the process of filling out Obama’s MadLibs agenda breaks down amid intra-party squabbling. Meanwhile the GOP twiddle their thumbs and just show up to say “no”.  Obama expressed a certain amount of naiveté in thinking he could rely on Congress and it’s costing him. If he doesn’t regain control of his party soon, it may cost them too.